Throughout his career, Barrios evolved how he played La Catedral, adding and removing parts, changing fingerings, and renotating entire movements. As a result, you will find that nobody plays it exactly the same way, depending on which transcription they are working from and how their preferences shape the bits they incorporate or omit to create their own unique renditions. Part of the joy of listening to or performing La Catedral is the variety of arrangements and interpretations it makes possible, providing something new to discover each time it is played. Preludio Saudade was added as the first movement in , after having been written in Havana, Cuba in Although some people reject the first movement as being part of La Catedral, it fits perfectly with the rest of the work and is a great work in its own right.
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Rico was also the man behind the Rico Nails artificial nails system for classical guitarists, which emphasized the use of non-toxic adhesives. His interest in Latin American guitar actually dates back to a summer spent in Costa Rica during his high school years. As the bio on his riconails. Then one day he heard a classical guitarist whose playing deeply interested him.
Trejos advised young Stover to seek out a teacher upon his return to California, which Stover did, thus beginning his study of the classical guitar and love affair with Latin America. His intensive search for music and materials related to Barrios and Latin American music took him to El Salvador where Barrios spent his last years and later Stover traveled to several other countries in Central and South America on his unending quest for knowledge and music.
Rico R with his friend legendary L. Graham Wade is a renowned historian and author. They sold very well. We first made contact in after the first issue of Classical Guitar magazine was published. Rico had confidence that I always understood his special love of the guitar. He happily contributed well over 50 articles to Classical Guitar over many years. We were in regular contact by mail and then email and he always knew he would get a speedy response from me to any of his queries. In , Rico founded his publications business, Querico.
Its catalogue included his excellent biography of Barrios, Six Silver Moonbeams and the selected works of Hector Ayala. We would meet from time to time at music trade fairs, however it was when he was living in Puerto Rico that my wife and I, in March , visited the island.
He arranged a memorable concert and dinner to celebrate our visit. All the leading Puerto Rican guitar people, including composer Ernesto Cordero, attended. I was then happy to arrange for Rico to attend the International Classical Guitar Festival at West Dean in the UK as one of the featured concert artists and lecturers.
We remained in regular email contact until a few months ago. I was shocked to hear this week of his recent and far too early death. I will miss him, as will all who knew him. After immersing myself in these fabulous pieces, I bought a pair of cassettes of Barrios recordings from the USA and decided to transcribe all the works on them.
Over the three years or so I did them, Rico somehow heard I was doing them and wrote to me, and over the years we corresponded but sadly I never spoke to him or actually met him.
When my volumes of the transcriptions of the complete recordings of Barrios fell out of print, it coincided with Rico republishing the complete original Barrios works with Mel Bay, so he asked for my permission to use all my transcriptions to complete the two books, which he did.
After all, without all his travels picking up the pieces he found, we would have been in a much worse state with regards to Barrios. I might have transcribed all the recordings, but I did it in the comfort of my front room in Manchester, UK; he did all the initial hard work. I wish I had somehow managed to meet him, as I think we would have got on like a house on fire, but alas, now it is not to be.
The guitar world is a much poorer place now that he has left us. Graham Wade: I met Rico on various occasions in England and the USA and we had earnest conversations together on a range of guitar subjects. He was a personality with a unique experience of Iberia and Latin America, as well as being a seasoned guitarist who had studied with great teachers.
Rico was also a writer, editor, and publisher of the first order. A second edition followed in The impact of the book was enormous. Our debt to Rico as guitarists began in the late s when he edited various Barrios works for Belwin Mills. The compositions in each case were given their historical context in fulsome appendices.
His monumental work on behalf of Barrios is unlikely ever to be equalled. Segovia never played anything by Barrios and never had a good word for him. This was the status quo for decades. Time passed. Then, in , John Williams released an all-Barrios LP on Columbia that blew open the floodgates, so to speak, unleashing an eventual torrent of critical approval from guitarists around the world that inundated the negative opinion of Segovia.
Advertisement The fact that Segovia played not one single work by Barrios is something that one might find puzzling. The fact that Segovia evidently never had the opportunity to work with the aforementioned composers is lamentable, as I am sure if he had been able to do so, we would have a very powerful arsenal of 20th century works. Can you imagine, for example, 12 Studies by Bartok? Or a Sonata by Ravel? Though he was not able to get next to the true giants of 20th century classical music, his efforts are today a basic part of the classic guitar, yielding a body of works that will forever stand as a major contribution.
We may regret the fact that Segovia never promoted his conviction to the point where he solicited music from Stravinsky, Ravel or Bartok, or that he limited himself to Ponce and Castlenuovo-Tedesco, but we cannot regret the fact that he never played the works of Barrios. His strength in the world of music, which knew little of the guitar, was precisely his capacity to deal with composers on their own level, and of presenting to the public and the critics works of a musical nature that had never been heard on the guitar.
Barrios—with all the respect that he deserves and whose recognition we are all glad to see—represented nothing in the qualitative sense that Segovia was seeking for himself or his instrument. The manuscript never made it. Segovia may have left the Rio de la Plata with a feeling of having been slighted by Barrios.
Perhaps it was a little of both. What were the circumstances behind this? He answered that it would be a great pleasure. Barrios passed over two hours with Segovia after which he received the congratulations from the Maestro, who lavished praise on his works with a feigned enthusiasm. Barrios, who has recently been contracted by the Careavallo firm, will be formally presented to the public tomorrow.
I doubt whether Barrios played any folk music or tango music for the Spanish maestro. And one other very important detail: Barrios played on a gut-strung guitar which he was not accustomed to doing. It is well known that Segovia thought that metal treble strings were not desirable. Segovia did not hear Barrios play his steel-strung Ramirez nor do I think he would have abided listening to him for two hours had Barrios done so.
It really did not matter, though, as Segovia ultimately proved to be uninterested in pursuing a relationship with Barrios.
Barrios actually represented the very best of this tradition. It was final. My theories about this embrace a total analysis of the flow of musical thought and technology in the West since the time of Pythagoras.
And this of course is relevant to the view of the world that prevails during any period of human history. Another area of contrast between the two guitarists deals with how each of them proceeded as full-time professional concert guitarists and how it affected their lives and careers. When they met in , neither Barrios nor Segovia had achieved anything even close to worldwide fame.
The combination of a dynamic entrepreneur and an outstanding young virtuoso on an instrument literally unknown to the traditional concert public produced a remarkably successful career that will be viewed in guitar history as one of the most amazing and important contributions ever seen in the world of concert guitar. Barrios died indigent and forgotten. His life was dominated by one major overwhelming challenge: how to find a public and earn a living playing the guitar. Growing up in Paraguay, Barrios had to deal with a reality of limited possibilities, in which if one wanted to perform, one had to hustle and promote oneself, as there was no organized classical music business to be found.
Thus, in order to perform, Barrios had to communicate directly with people, utilize friendships and contacts, and move around to different locales. This challenge that he met in his youth would never leave him all his life—how to find an audience? He never had someone to organize concerts—he had to do it himself, confronting the world alone. Barrios did not perceive the crucial importance of procuring an international representative as a fundamental step in the formation of a professional concert career.
However, if Barrios had procured a good agent, without a doubt he would not have played in so many cities and small towns. His modus operandi demanded that he spend extended periods of time in the places he visited, and this exposed him to influences that he would not have experienced had he done it differently.
This exposure to different countries and cultures provided a unique stimulus to his creative impulse. At the highest level, the business of concerts is based by and large on organized touring in major cities, not towns and out of the way places.
Exemplary of this, in Segovia and de Quesada signed a contract for a tour of 40 concerts in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico during a period of five months. That is to say, five months of guaranteed work playing in metropolitan centers, all very well planned, with a perspective of success.
La Catedral Agustín Barrios Mangoré Stover
I believe that knowing the circumstances, motives and historical background in which a song was written can and should make a difference in your performance. So I decided to start reading and researching about the song. To my surprise, the information found on the subject is diverse. There are some differences in the facts shared by people about this masterpiece. The differences found are related to places and motives for writing the composition. So what I want to do, is share some information and historical background of this composition. This is information I retrieved from interviews, written documents and blogs from some of the most dedicated professors, performers and historians on the music of Agustin Barrios.
“La Catedral” – Agustin Barrios Mangoré